The influence of breast cancer subtype on survival after palliative radiation for osseous metastases

Mohamed K. Abdelhakiem, Candice Johnstone, Carmen Bergom, Adam Currey, Jared R. Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Among patients with osseous metastases, breast cancer (BC) patients typically have the best prognosis. In the palliative setting, BC is often considered a single disease, but based on receptor status there are four distinct subtypes: luminal A (LA), luminal B (LB), triple negative (TN), and HER2-enriched (HER2). We hypothesize that survival and palliative outcomes following palliative RT for osseous metastases correlate with breast cancer subtype (BCS). Methods: We identified 3,895 BC patients with known receptor status who received palliative RT for osseous metastases from 2004–2013 in the National Cancer Database. Kaplan–Meier method with log-rank testing and univariate/multivariate Cox-regression was used to identify survival factors. Incomplete radiation courses, 30-day mortality rate, and percentage remaining life spent receiving RT (PRLSRT) were calculated. Results: Subtypes were 54% LA, 33% LB, 8% TN, and 5% HER2 with median survival of 34.1, 28.2, 5.3, and 15.7 months, respectively (p < 0.001). Overall 82% of patients received ≥10 fractions. Although BCS had limited effect on radiation regimens, TN received nearly twice as many single or hypofractionated (≤5 fractions) treatments, but the overall rate of these fraction schemes was low at 3.7 and 13.7%, respectively. Compared to LA and LB, TN and HER2 patients had worse palliative outcomes; higher rates of incomplete courses at 18.8% and 18.3% versus 12.7%–14.4%; higher 30-day mortality post-radiotherapy at 21.5% and 16.0% versus 6.3%–7.9%, and higher median PRLSRT of 7.7% and 3.7% versus 2.2%–2.4% for LA and LB. On multivariate analysis, BCS was associated with overall survival with TN (HR 3.7), HER2 (HR 1.75), and LB (HR 1.28) fairing worse than LA (p < 0.001). Conclusions: BCS correlated with survival and palliative outcome following radiation to osseous metastases. BCS should be considered by physicians when planning palliative RT to maximize quality-of-life, avoid unnecessary treatment, and ensure palliative benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8979-8988
Number of pages10
JournalCancer medicine
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • breast cancer
  • osseous metastases
  • outcomes
  • palliative
  • radiation
  • subtype


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